EARLY VOTING THIS YEAR HAS ALREADY ECLIPSED 2014 NUMBERS: With six days of early voting left to go, North Carolinians hit a milestone: Elections officials have accepted more ballots from people who voted early in person during this election than during the full early voting period for the 2014 midterms. Nearly 1.1 million people have cast their votes in person so far, the latest data from the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement show. More than 41,000 ballots have been mailed in. Surveys suggest that enthusiasm for voting is high. A Pew Research Center survey in September found the highest level of voter enthusiasm in two decades. A majority of the 1,439 registered voters who responded to the survey said they considered their votes an expression of support or opposition to President Donald Trump.
4th CIRCUIT REMOVES GAG ORDER IN SMITHFIELD HOG FARM LAWSUITS: "The gag order has already inflicted serious harm on parties, advocates and potential witnesses alike," Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote for the unanimous appellate panel. "It has muted political engagement on a contested issue of great public and private consequence." Smithfield's hog division, Murphy-Brown, has lost all three cases that have gone to trial, and jurors have hit the company with a half-billion dollars in verdicts. The fourth case is slated for trial next month. The order had targeted a range of people, including any "potential witnesses," an overly broad category that could "include almost anyone who is knowledgeable or conversant about the issues in these cases," Wilkinson wrote. "The judicial process does not run and hide at those moments when public appraisal of its workings is most intense," Wilkinson wrote.
DURHAM MAYOR STEVE SCHEWEL SPEAKS OUT ABOUT TRUMP'S VIOLENCE-INDUCING RHETORIC: “Like all of you, I am horrified by the slaughter of innocent life in the name of hatred,” he said about the Tree of Life murders. “We must call on the President and his followers to end the hateful rhetoric that is empowering people on the violent fringes of American life,” Schewel wrote. “We must stand up boldly against any encouragement — overt or subtle — of those who would slaughter Jews at worship, or send pipe bombs to prominent people in the mail, or slam reporters to the ground, or commit violence against members of our LGBTQ, African-American, Muslim or immigrant communities. Words matter, and all of us need to take a stand now against the casual but purposeful rhetoric that is giving cover to violence,” he said.
TRUMP THREATENS TO CHANGE CONSTITUTION OVER BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP: With seven days to go before high-stakes elections that he has sought to focus on his fearmongering over immigration, Trump made the comments to "Axios on HBO." Trump, seeking to energize his supporters and help Republicans keep control of Congress, has stoked anxiety about a caravan of Central American migrants making its way to the U.S.-Mexico border. He is dispatching additional troops and saying he'll set up tent cities for asylum seekers. The president has long called for an end to birthright citizenship, as have many conservatives. An executive order to revoke the right would spark a court fight over whether the president has the unilateral ability to change an amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment guarantees that right for all children born in the U.S.
IF DEMS CAN RETAKE US HOUSE, WE MIGHT FINALLY SEE TRUMP'S TAX RETURNS: Democrats, eyeing control of a powerful House tax-writing committee next year, are studying a century-old provision in the federal tax code that could give them access to President Trump’s long-sought tax returns and eventually the ability to make them public. The powers laid out in an obscure 1920s addition to the tax code are clear: The leaders of Congress’s tax-writing committees, including the Ways and Means Committee in the House, are empowered to request from the Treasury Department tax returns or related information on any tax filer. Democrats could use that information to finally determine if Mr. Trump, who built a global business empire before entering politics, has problematic financial entanglements with Russia or other undisclosed conflicts of interest. They could also use such an inquiry to determine whether Mr. Trump violated the law before his election to avoid paying taxes.